Silicone gel implants next week! Feeling concerned about possible link to declining health, autoimmune disease post BA.

I'm scheduled for my ba in a week (silicone gel) and recently have been noticing stories about explanation, autoimmune disease brought on by implants and the general decline in health they can cause. My greatest concern is negatively affecting my health long term for the sake of vanity. I am allergic to penicillin and other antibiotics and am hypothyroid, so I know my body is sensitive. Can anyone speak to how prevalent autoimmune disease/decline in health is among your patients post ba?

Doctor Answers 11

Scaremongering Over Silcione Gel Implants?

Silicone gel implants are the most studied medical device in the history of medical device regulation, and the most studied device in the history of the FDA.  There is no scientific evidence that they lead to any increased rates of systemic diseases over the general population.  There are some that pray on women's fears about their existing implants, driving them to their practices for removal of their implants.  This is disingenuous and against the current sound scientific evidence.  Silica, the elemental particle in silicone, is the second most common mineral in your entire body.  If you use any sort of hair care products, you are ingesting it all day long.  Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable with your choices, but over the past 15 years, an estimated 1.75million women have gotten a primary breast augmentation in the US alone.  If they really caused these medical problems, than that is by far a large enough sample to see increased systemic diseases and they simply are not there.  I hope this helps.

Safety of silicone implants

As the other answers have indicated, silicone does not cause autoimmune disease nor any systemic disease. This has been shown time and again in well-controlled studies by respected institutions. One significant difference between silicone and saline is that if there is a leak with saline, you know it right away, whereas with silicone you would have to get an MRI to diagnose a leak. Now there is a third alternative, a structured implant known as the Ideal Implant. It is filled with saline, but feels much more natural than traditional saline implants.  If there is a leak, you will know without having to get an X-ray. Again, however, silicone implants do not cause disease.

Paul W. Loewenstein, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Gel implants

It is normal to have misgivings prior to surgery.  You do want to educate yourself about important decisions such as this, but beware where you get the information from.  The gel implants have been rigorously studied for years and are believed to be safe.  Your surgeon should be able to provide literature about them, including clinical studies that have been conducted.  You should discuss these concerns with your surgeon.  He/She should be able to help answer your questions, as they are very common.  Please note, this procedure is something to be excited about and should be a positive experience in your life.  Get the reassurance you need so that you can look forward to the beautiful results it can bring.

Camille Cash, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Silicone implants linked with Autoimmune disease?

 Thank you for your important question!

You see, we are naturally scared of things we do not know or things we do not understand. It is okay to feel concerned especially because there still isn’t much information on the prevalence of autoimmune disease after breast augmentation surgery. You see, ASSOCIATIONS have been found in a very small subgroup of patients in multiple old studies, but there is still no conclusive evidence that proves that silicone breast implants CAUSE autoimmune diseases. As such, calculating prevalence of such a thing is not possible because it does not exist. Several studies implicate that there is no increased risk to develop autoimmune diseases after silicone breast implant insertion which is why the FDA lifted the ban on these implants in 2006. So, educating ourselves in this field is important so that we do not take things out of context.

Please note that even if there was a theoretical link between implants and autoimmune disease, compared to the number of people who get BBAs each year (over 300,000), very few actually experience autoimmune disease-related clinical symptoms.
  Below, I describe 2 research papers from July 2016 which suggest that silicone implants may be linked with autoimmune disease-related symptoms, but the studies are not long-term clinical trials, and neither do they directly link implants with autoimmune diseases. Based on current evidence from CLINICAL TRIALS, we can say that silicone breast implants are safe, especially with the new current generation implants.

1) In the 30 year comparative study by Colaris et al., 100 patients who had autoimmune/inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants (ASIA) due to silicone implants were diagnosed in 2014 in Netherlands and were compared with another set of 100 patients with the same diagnosis between the years 1985-1992 in USA. The study found that most patients had clinical symptoms required to diagnose ASIA: chronic fatigue, arthralgia (joint pain), myalgia (muscle pain), cognitive impairment, pyrexia (fever), and sicca (dry eyes). They also found that 52% of patients in both groups had allergies. In the 2014 group, 34 patients were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. They found that from the 54 patients who underwent removal of their silicone breast implant, 50 % (n = 27) of the patients experienced improvement of complaints after explantation of the implant. The authors found that the median time it took for patients to have clinical symptoms was 4 years. The median time between implant and diagnosis was 13 years. The authors of the study conclude that even though changes were made to silicone implants during the past 50 years, the presence of similar symptoms in the 2014 group links silicone implants to autoimmune diseases. The authors call for clinical trials to see if silicone breast implants are safe.
Colaris, M. J. L., Boer, M. de, Hulst, R. R. van der, & Tervaert, J. W. C. (2016). Two hundreds cases of ASIA syndrome following silicone implants: a comparative study of 30 years and a review of current literature. Immunologic Research, 1–9.
  2) In a study by Boer et al., patients with implants who had nonspecific complaints such as joint pain, muscle pain, and fatigue had their implants explanted. This was done to see if explantation of silicone implants will reduce the clinical symptoms so that it can be advised as an effective therapy for these patients. The study found that explantation improved silicone-related complaints in approximately 75% of the patients (469 out of 622). Autoimmune diseases improved in 56% of patients (10 out of 18) only when removal of implants was coupled with immunosuppressive therapy.
Boer, M. de, Colaris, M., Hulst, R. R. W. J. van der, & Tervaert, J. W. C. (2016). Is explantation of silicone breast implants useful in patients with complaints? Immunologic Research, 1–12.

Both these studies are not enough to say that silicone breast implants cause autoimmune disease. All that the studies show is that certain symptoms which can have multiple causes (i.e, muscle pain, fatigue, joint pain, and dry eyes) seem to get reduced after explantation of the implants in 50% to 75% of these patients. As you can see, neither study specifically linked autoimmune disease with breast implants. This is why we should not take things out of context and start thinking that silicone implants are not safe.

I advise you to share your concerns with a board-certified plastic surgeon, and hopefully they can clear any misunderstanding and misconception.

Hope this helps.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 416 reviews

Silicone and health issues

There is a great deal of peer reviewed literature on this topic that is not being read by the plastic surgeons.  Silicone is an adjuvant and is associated with autoimmune disease in some patients with genetic predispositions (HLA B27 and HLA DR53).  Also there is chemical toxicity causing both autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia in patients with detoxification defects such as MTHFR.  In one study and in my clinical experience, 100% of patients with defective silicone gel implants have been found to have Candidiasis due to an immune defect and this is linked with fibromyalgia as well due to biotoxins.  Most plastic surgeons know very little about this subject but if you look at my website you will see information including papers with peer reviewed references re all of this.  Saline implants in some patients cause problems with biotoxicity as 25% of the population cannot get rid of the biotoxin from mold contamination and therefore get sick building syndrome.  I treat thousands of patients with these conditions and have the largest clinical experience in the world.  The new gummy bear implants can leak before eight years especially with trauma and all silicone implants should be changed out every eight years due to a lipolysis reaction of the shell (Dow Corning engineering data).  Saline implants should be changed out every ten to fifteen years depending on the brand.  This is based on our clinical experience and the peer reviewed literature. If you look at data coming out of the Netherlands as well as a paper published in 2001 in the Journal of Rheumatology partially paid for by the FDA, both show increased risk of fibromyalgia in patients with defective silicone implants.  If you have a history of autoimmune disease or a family history, then silicone implants are not advisable and if you have a history of mold biotoxin disease or mold in your environment, then saline implants may need to be avoided.  Again, plastic surgeons do not know about these diseases, as the patients who are ill, usually come to our clinic to be treated.

Susan Kolb, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Implants and autoimmune disease

This has been extensively studied with data compiled in both Europe and the United States.  No statistical correlation exists between implants and autoimmune diseases.  The current 4th generation implants have a very low rupture rate, and have been used for many years.  Your plastic surgeon can answers your questions and you should feel comfortable before proceeding with surgery.

David A. Lickstein, MD
Palm Beach Gardens Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Silicone gel implants - worried about the safety!

Thank you for asking about your silicone el ipmlans.
  • Let me explain this controversy.
  • In the 1990s, extensive research was done on auto-immune disease and no link of any kind was found between silicone gel and auto-immune disease.
  • Since then, the new gel implants are much firmer, less likely to leak and overall considered much safer.
  • However - implants of any kind can cause problems.
  • We believe that allergy to silicone does not occur because it is inert but - 
  • We do know that bacteria can settle around an implant, forming a biofilm - 
  • This causes chronic irritation without causing pus or other obvious infection.
  • The irritation can cause muscle aching and pain that starts in the chest and slowly spreads.
  • I have seen women with this symptoms have implants removed and feel well almost immediately.
  • Your hypothyroidism and penicillin allergy should not affect your result.
  • But if you are concerned, you can change to saline implants - which have their pros and cons but are filled with salt water, not silicone gel.
  • Above all, review your decision with your plastic surgeon and be sure you understand the pros and cons of both kinds of implants.
Always consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.  Best wishes. Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

Concerns about health with breast implants.

Breast implants are the most studied medical devices in human history! There are highly respected medical publications and medical societies that have reviewed the data and the conclusion is there is no link between implants and autoimmune disease. Women can get the same medical conditions they did before breast implants were invented so, like most things in life, there are no guarantees about what could come in the future. Speak with your PS who is the best resource to give reassurance or additional education on the subject. Best, Dr. ALDO

Aldo Guerra, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 185 reviews

Gel implants and health

Silicone implants have been EXTENSIVELY studied, and continue to be, since the early 1990s and no link to any systemic disease has been found. Having said that, it does not guarantee you might not one day develop an autoimmune or other disease or decline in health as this can happen with or without implants. Do not proceed with your surgery though unless/until YOU are comfortable that with accepting whatever risks are associated with surgery and breast implants.

Robert H. Hunsaker, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Silicone gel implants next week! Feeling concerned about possible link to declining health, autoimmune disease post BA.

Hello dear, thanks for your question and provided information as well.. The breasts may lose their elasticity and firmness which can be caused by different factors such as pregnancy, massive weight loss, lactation and aging. To reaffirm the breasts and restore the natural look your surgeon can perform a mastopexy or breast lift. A breast lift restores a firmer, perkier, and more aesthetically pleasing shape to sagging breasts. This not only can improve a patient’s appearance by restoring her youthful, feminine proportions, but  also help bras and swimsuits fit more comfortably and attractively. By removing excess, stretched out skin, reshaping the breast tissue, and raising the nipple & areola into a more forward position, a cosmetic surgeon can create a more youthful breast contour. Stretched, large areolae can also be reduced during breast lift surgery, creating an overall better proportioned, natural looking breast, Actually the perkiness on a person or another, depends on patients skin and breast tissue… Breast augmentation surgery increases or restores breast size using silicone gel implants, saline implants or in some cases, fat transfer. One of the most popular and frequently performed aesthetic surgery procedures, breast augmentation has a long and successful track record in satisfying women who wish to enhance, regain or restore balance to their figures.

Tania Medina de Garcia, MD
Dominican Republic Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 332 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.